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  • Cited by 21
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Emmerich, N. 2016. The deaths of human beings. QJM, Vol. 109, Issue. 4, p. 229.

    Eberl, Jason T. 2015. A Thomistic defense of whole-brain death. The Linacre Quarterly, Vol. 82, Issue. 3, p. 235.

    Nair-Collins, Michael 2015. Taking Science Seriously in the Debate on Death and Organ Transplantation. Hastings Center Report, Vol. 45, Issue. 6, p. 38.

    Racine, Eric 2015. Revisiting the Persisting Tension Between Expert and Lay Views About Brain Death and Death Determination: A Proposal Inspired by Pragmatism. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Vol. 12, Issue. 4, p. 623.

    Raho, Joseph A. and Miccinesi, Guido 2015. Contesting the Equivalency of Continuous Sedation until Death and Physician-assisted Suicide/Euthanasia: A Commentary on LiPuma. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 40, Issue. 5, p. 529.

    Bernat, James L. 2014. Whither Brain Death?. The American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 14, Issue. 8, p. 3.

    Daoust, Ariane and Racine, Eric 2014. Depictions of ‘brain death’ in the media: medical and ethical implications. Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 40, Issue. 4, p. 253.

    Racine, Eric 2014. Defining Death Without Science? A Pragmatic Rebuttal. The American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 14, Issue. 8, p. 41.

    Abaroa, Luz and Garretto, Nélida Susana 2013. Muerte encefálica. Situación legal en Argentina. Neurología Argentina, Vol. 5, Issue. 2, p. 101.

    Bernat, James L. 2013. On Noncongruence between the Concept and Determination of Death. Hastings Center Report, Vol. 43, Issue. 6, p. 25.

    Bernat, James L. 2013. Controversies in defining and determining death in critical care. Nature Reviews Neurology, Vol. 9, Issue. 3, p. 164.

    Bernat, James L. 2013. Ethical and Legal Issues in Neurology.

    Lizza, John P. 2011. Philosophy of Medicine.

    Bernat, J. L. 2010. How the Distinction between "Irreversible" and "Permanent" Illuminates Circulatory-Respiratory Death Determination. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 35, Issue. 3, p. 242.

    Bernat, James L. 2009. Coma Science: Clinical and Ethical Implications.

    Bernat, James L. 2009. The Neurology of Consciousness.

    Escudero, D. Matesanz, R. Alberto Soratti, C. and Ignacio Flores, J. 2009. Consideraciones generales sobre la muerte encefálica y recomendaciones sobre las decisiones clínicas tras su diagnóstico. Medicina Intensiva, Vol. 33, Issue. 9, p. 450.

    Lizza, John P. 2007. 9 Persons: Natural, Functional, or Ethical Kind?. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 66, Issue. 1, p. 195.

    Bernat, James L. 2006. The Whole-Brain Concept of Death Remains Optimum Public Policy. The Journal of Law, Medicine <html_ent glyph="@amp;" ascii="&amp;"/> Ethics, Vol. 34, Issue. 1, p. 35.

    Bernat, James L. 2005. The Boundaries of Consciousness: Neurobiology and Neuropathology.



  • James L. Bernat (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2002

Notwithstanding these wise pronouncements, my project here is to characterize the biological phenomenon of death of the higher animal species, such as vertebrates. My claim is that the formulation of “whole-brain death” provides the most congruent map for our correct understanding of the concept of death. This essay builds upon the foundation my colleagues and I have laid since 1981 to characterize the concept of death and refine when this event occurs. Although our society's well-accepted program of multiple organ procurement for transplantation requires the organ donor first to be dead, the concept of brain death is not merely a social contrivance to permit us to obtain the benefits of organ procurement. Rather, the concept of whole-brain death stands independently as the most accurate biological representation of the demise of the human organism.

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Social Philosophy and Policy
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